By Anand Sinha
Edited by Anandita Malhotra, Senior Editor, The Indian Economist
Amidst the disappointing results of the by- elections post the Lok Sabha elections, the Bhartiya Janta Party is playing the ‘love jihad’ card in western Uttar Pradesh. BJP along with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), its parent wing and the affiliated groups has been trying to propagate among the people of the western UP that the Muslim men are trying to lure Hindu girls into marrying them and getting these girls converted into Islam. This is a conspiracy hatched to get as many women converted into Islam as possible, being funded by Islamic religious organisations of the Middle East. This is what ‘love jihad’ is. Though interestingly, some prominent Muslim politicians belonging to the BJP itself have Hindu wives.
Yogi Adityanath and Sangeet Som are the most prominent BJP politicians who are at the helm of this programme; the former has been recently issued a notice by the Election Directorate for violating the electoral code of conduct and the latter is an accused in the Muzaffarnagar riots. The region had recently witnessed a bloody Hindu- Muslim riot before the Lok Sabha elections. It seems crystal clear that no matter how much the BJP pretends to be progressive, it will never abandon its anti- Muslim and divide and rule politics. It is not to deny that many madrasas in the country are very fundamentalist and separatist in their teachings but the BJP is very much in the scene.
Amidst this scene, many Muslim right- wing organizations have also been reaching out to the young Muslim women to beware of a similar ‘love jihad’ by Hindu men, funded by Hindu religious and political organizations. Clearly, all the political parties from both the sides are trying to make the best out of it. But all of it keeps taking place to no avail of the people of the region in terms of development.
In the midst of these supposed conspiracies, what comes across is a very striking supposition by these political parties, that is, all the women are fools who cannot tell love from feign. After several cases of sexual assault and the subsequent protests against them, there is this supposed politically correct atmosphere even among the political parties regarding women. But they have yet not recognised women as the equals of men when it comes to something as common as common sense. What could have been more offensive to women than this supposition? Women are not given the right to express what they feel and if they even care one bit about such politics now is a fact unknown.
Clearly, BJP still remains a hugely patriarchal and casteist party, thanks to its association with the RSS, which cannot think of giving enough freedom to women to marry men of their choice irrespective of caste, religion, region etc. Earlier, inter- caste marriages were an anathema to them because these marriages polluted the people of the high caste. Now that it has to reach out to the low castes (as per them) for its votes with its pan- Hindu appeal (which emerged during the 1992 Ayodhya movement), it is now keen on resisting inter- religious relationships. The BJP can certainly never become a progressive party as long as it is associated with these right wing religious groups.
It instantly reminded me of a very old Shabana Azmi film, ‘Godmother’. Mrs. Azmi plays a politician- cum- mafia don in the film, but one with a large heart. She marries a Hindu girl to a Muslim boy, despite her own son (our very own Raju Rastogi from 3 Idiots) desperate to ‘own’ her. She says that neither she nor any of the other leaders have done anything for the people of their community but have only played politics by drawing casteist and religious lines, only to be shot at the hands of a right wing politician.
Well, things have ended this way only until now. We can only hope that people become more sensible this time and not vote on religious lines. In the Lok Sabha elections, though BJP emerged as the majority party, it had only garnered around 30% votes of the people. But if the BJP wins on religious lines, the right wing groups would again prove that this is what we deserve for what we are.
Currently based in Delhi, Anand is an English literature student at the Delhi College of Arts and Commerce, University of Delhi. After working as a content writer and editor for an online firm for a few months, he interned at Youth Ki Awaaz. Sinha defines his political stand as centre-left. His interests include literature, cinema, music, philosophy and world politics.